April 19, 2014

We Want Answers

By  Dan Snapp, Patriots Daily Staff

Your guess is as good as mine.

The Patriots trading Randy Moss makes no sense, from the compensation (a measly third-rounder) to the timing (game five while tied for the AFC East lead) to the trading partner (October 31st opponent Minnesota). Vikings coach Brad Childress loves to tell the press all the times he thinks he outwitted Bill Belichick. Today, he’s right.

There’s got to be more to the story. There’s no way a team simply gives away* their top deep and red zone threat in the midst of a tight divisional race.

* While a third-round pick is nothing to be sniffed at, a 2011 pick does the Patriots no good in 2010 (and possibly no good in 2011, for that matter, given the looming lockout).

Throughout Moss’s time with the Patriots, he’s been the good soldier. We’ve never seen the petulance that famously followed him in Minnesota and Oakland. He had contempt for the press, but on Belichick’s Patriots, that’s a good thing.

So what happened? Do the Patriots think his skills have eroded? With fewer balls coming his way, has he become a locker room cancer? And as petty as it makes the organization sound, was Moss’s week one public admonishment of “not feeling wanted” a bridge too far?

We all have heard and get the old Branch Rickey quote, “Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late,” but this really doesn’t apply, not for what they’re getting back. What’s a third-rounder to the New England Patriots? It’s a pick they’ve blown much more often than they’ve hit. And as much as the Patriots like to continually be future-facing, there’s only so much future for Tom Brady to still face.

There will some knee-jerk rationalizing to come, with terms like “bridge year” thrown out. There will be suggestions Belichick soberly looked at his squad and decided it ain’t happening this year. People will eventually say multiple picks in rounds 1-4 next year justifies the move.

I don’t buy it, because I don’t believe Belichick ever gives up on a season. There’s got to be something else.

Belichick will probably offer his usual platitudes, “We’re just trying to do what’s best for the organization … we saw good value in the deal … Randy’s been a tremendous player for the Patriots and we thank him and wish him well …” yada yada yada.

We’ve never asked for more explanation from Belichick, always taking him at his word whenever he stated his goal was to make the team better and win games.

Not this time. This time, the team got worse. We’d just like to know why.

Comments

  1. Thanks for not drinking the kool aid like so many others- the Patriots would get a third-round pick anyway as compensation when Moss left as a FA. The question is not “Can they win?,” it’s “Are they better?” For anyone defending Belichick, they have to explain how it makes the team better.

  2. NJ Pats Fan says:

    This is truly the most inexplicable personnel move I’ve ever seen the Pats make. Especially if they would have been allotted a 3rd round pick anyway if he were to be let go after the 2010 season. His value to the offense was not only his ability to make acrobatic catches but also to occupy 2 defenders every time he went downfield, freeing at least one receiver underneath in single coverage. I very much hope that there is more to this than what has been made known so far….

  3. Chris Warner says:

    Well, at least Jets fans are enjoying themselves.

  4. From a talent standpoint I think the Pats got worse, but from a scheme standpoint I’m ok with it. I think seeing Tom try to force the ball to Rady in the Jets game was the turning point for me. I loved the old Pats when tom’s favorite receiver was “whichever one is open”, and I think we got away from that in recent seasons. I think randy is one of the best receivers in NFL history, but I’d rather see us go 2 TE and spread the ball around and let the D have to figure out who to double, rather than letting them double Randy every play and risk us trying the throw anyway. It worked great the first season with him because nobody had seen the Pats play like that, but the opponenets have caught on. But, I could always change my mind. I will say the 3rd is a little lower than I thought it would be, but with a lot of extra picks, and a potential for a salary lock, we could potentially move a 2/3/4th for a 1st trade and get 3 first rounders (with their affordable 5 year contracts) and still have a 2nd and 3rd in the pocket.

  5. NJpatsfan says:

    The only way this trade makes sense is if the Pats are going to also acquire Vincent Jackson and sign him long-term. Flipping a second rounder to SD means the trade becomes 12 games of Randy Moss and a second rounder for Vincent Jackson and a third rounder.

  6. Would this make a trade for Vincent Jackson look good?

  7. I tend to agree with Chris. As fun as it has been to watch Randy, I also have gotten the impression that Randy makes Tom worse, not better. Over the last few years Brady has tried over and over to force the ball to Randy in pressure situations when a more patient approach might have been more successful.

  8. Respectfully disagree Dan. I understand the widespread, kneejerk displeasure at not netting anything immediate in return, but let’s be pragmatic: Moss was NOT going to stick around after this year. So the Patriots traded 3/4th’s of his expiring contract (not including playoffs) for a 3rd round pick. Combine that with 3+ years of exceptional production, and that’s a helluva return on their initial investment of a 4th rounder. The Pats are now even more loaded with picks next year (or the year after, depending on CBA talks), so they’ll have plenty of flexibility to draft for or trade for whomever they want.

    And while Randy’s production (not to mention the double and sometimes triple teams he commanded) will also be missed , the Patriots drafted well at WR and TE, their running game is effective (albeit bruised) and, oh yeah, they lead the world in points scored – those points having been scored by all units of the team. I don’t see that balance being destroyed by the Moss trade, especially as the defense continues to improve.

    Let’s wait a few weeks to see how this plays out. Say, Halloween.

  9. I’d feel better if they shopped him around. Even with Moss playing out his current deal, I think the Pats could have gotten more than just the third.

    The Seymour trade was palatable because the Raiders’ first was an offer you couldn’t refuse. I don’t know where the leverage came from that the Vikings were the only possible trade partners.

  10. Moss was on the field for nearly 80% of the Pats offensive plays. He dictated coverages and was a major factor opening up the underneath routes.

    Please stop with the “throw it to the open guy” nonsense. What happens when guys don’t get open? In making comparisons to the offenses from a few seasons ago, people forget just how good Branch and Givens were, not just catching the ball but their versatility when it came to running routes and Troy Brown was no slouch either. Besides, Corey Dillon was putting up monster numbers and the opponents had to respect the running game. The defense actually made stops in the red zone and gave up less than 16 points a game putting less pressure on the offense to score.

    They don’t have a good running game now. They don’t have a good defense now. They don’t have the experience and route running versatility at WR now. The offense HAS to put up points for this team to win games. The defense is not going to hold every opponent to 14 points.

    The most baffling thing to me is, how did the Vikings, who were so desperate to upgrade their offense, get Moss for just a third rounder?

    If there is a salary lock for rookies, the value of first round picks will skyrocket and you might as well say goodbye to the pipe-dream of trading multiple lower round picks for a first rounder.

  11. oldskool138 says:

    “(and possibly no good in 2011, for that matter, given the looming lockout).”

    The 2011 draft will be held and the teams retain their negotiating rights with the players they picked once the lockout is over. So, they don’t lose anything.

    • I meant that the player drafted in 2011 will be of no use in 2011 if there’s a lockout. I know the draft’s still scheduled whether there’s a lockout or not.

      • oldskool138 says:

        You made it sound like it’s just the Pats’ problem. The entire league is in the same boat…it’s just the Pats have a bunch more picks in 2011 than most other teams.

        • No, it was simply about when the player from that compensation will first offer dividends. The equation is Moss for 12 games (plus playoffs) vs. draft pick who could play in 2011, but may not play ’til 2012. Nothing to do with any other teams.

  12. Well I, for one, am glad that they finally took away Brady’s “heroin” addiction.

    Look, I enjoyed the Moss era, but his existence here made Brady a different quarterback. He turned into Peyton Manning for God’s sake: great regular season numbers but a totally different offensive approach, which hurt them come playoff time (the “great” 2007 offense had exactly one good post-season performance in three games played that year)—that’s one of the main reasons why the Colts have exactly one VERY lucky, officials-aided Lombardi Trophy to go along with all of Manning’s shiny regular season MVP awards.

    Short term, the deal isn’t that great. Long term, I think it’s exactly what they needed.

    And by the way, what did you think they could reasonably expect to get in return for a 33-yeard old WR who is about to hit the FA market?

    A 3rd rounder sounds about right to me, especially given the fact that Minnesota was not given a chance to negotiate a contract extension–that could have convinced them to give up a 2nd rounder, but it’s still just an “if.”

    • Here are some key facts.

      Trade for Moss is possibly a very low 3rd round pick (assuming Vikes do well this season)
      Patriots also give Vikes a 7th round pick.

      Patriots could have gotten a 5th compensatory round pick had they kept Moss for the entire season and Moss did not stay a Patriot.

      So, we are not getting much back for him.

      Clearly, there was more behind the scenes and in the locker room that we do not know about.

  13. 4 Games…9 “measly” catches…..and I’m not buying the old, “well, the opposing team decided to take him out of the game” cliche……Moss is on the downside, he just doesn’t get open like he used to…….The year he caught 23 touchdown passes weren’t teams trying to “take him out of the game”??….and he still got open…….better to get something for him than nothing…..and let’s face it, with or without Moss they aren’t winning the Super Bowl this year

  14. someone please bring up passing on Dez Bryant…….if Moss wasnt going to be in the future plans why did they take McCourty………you can say they thought they would be able to resign Moss, cap friendly, he has been a good soldier etc, but thats an unkmown, and a big if……..and they obviously knew they were gonna lock brady up, so keep him well stocked with weapons, especially where Belicheck knows the defense is suspect and one rookie corner wont help that this year

  15. I have a question for the media. Now that Moss has been traded, there are stories about Moss’ altercation with the QB coach, O’Brien. Now, this is typical. Why do these stories surface AFTER the fact? Are the beat writers so inept that they do not know these instances right after their occurrence? Probably not – I guess they know it right after. If so, why don’t you report it AS SOON AS you know it? The plausible answer is not to disrupt the team chemistry and not to make the \”team\” look bad. To that I ask, how is it your responsibility to ensure a professional football team’s chemistry? Your job is to report news, unbiased. I just have a problem with that.

    The reason I say its a problem, is that after the fact, it always seems like the team management were the prophet and the players are devils. It is never as good as it seems just like it is never as bad as it is told. The truth lies somewhere in between. And it is because media assumes it needs to cushion the truth at various points that we, the fans, do not know the entire truth!

  16. Classless says:

    This trade is idiotic because the Pats didn’t get a player in return (yet?). Unless they make another move (Branch, Jackson) they might as well have lost Moss to a season ending injury.

  17. Hey Dan,
    How about this off-the-wall speculation: What if, in Belichick’s master plan, he figured that Vincent Jackson would be better long-term for the team than Moss, that Moss would be even more disruptive if they brought in Jackson (for big bucks), and that if he traded Moss to the Vikings, the result might be to possibly knock some of the Pat’s division rivals down a notch? Just a thought.

    Doug

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